“Although 9102 has passed, I will only play games.”
Throughout 2019, the domestic game market is not calm. We have witnessed that “Yu Sanjia” has gathered in mainland China within this generation, and we cannot avoid the shrinking of the industry caused by related policies such as the issue of restricted editions. The so-called joys and worries-the worries may be even greater.
However, domestic games are still a year of progress in 2019. Looking at the “Steam Hot New Works” in the past 12 months, 9 of them have been produced by Chinese people. Being able to enter this list also means that they have achieved good results in terms of revenue. Taking this opportunity, I managed to hook up with several game producers and creators who are on the list (or not), and talked to them about the trivia and the past year.
Drink more water under stress
Although the first time I met Awa was on the recording site of a certain VG radio station, I actually lurked into the officially formed player group long before the release of “Battle of the Virgin”. It was originally set up by a “big and white” person who ran the teacher Jiujiaozi, but what I didn’t expect was that the producer often jumped out of the gag and occasionally opened a live broadcast on his own, leaving it more profound. impression.
A Bo often takes very important things in one stroke, and it is difficult to tell whether this person has a clear mind or a good mentality. For example, relative to the sales of “Daughter of War”, he thinks that it is equally important to be able to play “Fire Emblem Wind Flower Snow Night” and “Devil May Cry 5” this year. For another example, when it comes to the “hard” development process of the past year, you sound flat and bland:
“(Overtime and overtime) There is no way to do this. It is not easy to do whatever industry. A person who is doing an independent game is usually responsible for many aspects of production at the same time. It is basically impossible to avoid continuous work for a long time to ensure the coupling of various aspects. Drink water.”
A Bo didn’t elaborate on the “high pressure”. It may be that it is not clear to me as a layman, or it may be that the trouble is from the game and is too trivial. As for whether drinking water can relieve stress, I have tried it anyway and it is not very useful. Ruo Nan of the “Shaped Knight” team mentioned a lot of trivial things. He recalled the past year and found a strange phenomenon:
“The day is fleeting, but the night is as good as the night. Take today as an example. As soon as I opened my eyes in the morning, I woke up to see an office building outside the Fifth Ring Road. I hurried back to the office at noon to ask about the progress of the report. It was originally I hope there will be a surprise on the first day of 2020, but it is still a piece of news. After that, I asked the guy who came for an interview this week, talked with the publishers about the next progress, and sent Nintendo again. The email urged the development of the Switch. After sending the email, stretched out and looked up, it was already dark.
Collapsed on the bed, and began to wonder if I would go to see other office buildings tomorrow? But it’s been a few months, and it seems that the Spring Festival is about to happen. I have to change the office quickly, or the whole team will be strangled in this pigeon cage! There is still a lot of room for improvement in the animation of our game. Should we add another animation to add it? But I spoke to investors a few days ago and said that we will control the budget in 2020! The animated guy coming for an interview tomorrow looks very promising and should be able to top it! Ah yes, the demo that promised my friends hasn’t finished yet … “
Ruo Nan has played games for 10 years so far, and the past year has been called “the hardest year in 10 years”. It’s not that this state of busyness and anxiety hasn’t been encountered before-for example, “GDC was in a tattered youth hostel the night before, while stomping and modifying BUG”, and for example, “taking a photo with idol Hideo Kojima on Demo Day, Later, he also worked for Sony’s second party. ” The main reason is that for the first time in 10 years, he has participated in game development as a manager.
Regarding work, almost all the game developers I talked to mentioned the problem of over-investment. Unlike Ruo Nan’s managerial identity, Zac’s approach is wild, and he has worked for five years on the “Special Team to Save the World”. But it was exactly one person who did it, and it basically turned into a busy job regardless of location. He thought it was a very unhealthy state:
“Fatigue and anxiety will greatly affect creativity and the future of an industry. Because the domestic game industry is mostly dependent on the Internet industry, pursuing the interests of the mass market and homogenizing competition are the characteristics of the Internet industry. , Inevitably 996. If you do a good job in differentiated competition and have a unique game, you can make good works without 996. “
When overtime is unavoidable, how to adjust the mentality of the team and individuals becomes an important issue. Black, the author of The Amazing Cultivation Simulator, was particularly disgusted with using overtime as a measure of workload. Although it is an ideal state to not work overtime at all, whoever works in the team will be “pulled out of the office” once the work is completed that day. After all, making games is a creative work. Only by maintaining a relaxed state can it produce excellent content. .
Zhechuan, who is in Next Studio, also mentioned that there was no mandatory overtime during the development of “Chasing the Doubt”. Generally, it was because he couldn’t finish the work or “want to fight again” for his own work. In the long run, if you want to make a good work, you still have to experience more life: creation can get a better life, and life can also accumulate for creation. This kind of “dynamic balance” can be regarded as a kind of welfare for games and creation.
I believe many people can perceive that gamers are “more and more tired”, in part because the industry is not so easy to make money. Wanda, the team leader of “Paperman”, also added that the development of stand-alone games is also relatively slow in China, and resources in all aspects are lacking.
This is indeed the case. According to the “2019 China Game Industry Annual Report”, although the actual sales of mobile games accounted for 64.9% of the overall sales, it also showed a slowdown in growth rate due to changes in user needs and increased difficulty in user acquisition. 2. The competitiveness of new products weakened. In 2019, the sales of stand-alone games in China increased by 341.4% year-on-year, but even this was only 640 million yuan, accounting for about 0.27% of the entire domestic game industry.
Woody launched a survival game called “The Last Wood” on Steam last year, which has been recognized by some players. He believes that the policy pressure on making sea games is relatively small, but the changes in the market structure and the shrinking of the weight are obvious to all:
“Our survival skills are” good steel is used on the blade “, because the income ceiling of the game market is very clear now, you can sell a few copies, take away the platform and release, and how much can be divided afterwards, it is all right Calculated. Therefore, it may be necessary to do it from the perspective of controlling costs, such as not to blindly expand the team, such as restraining the development scale, such as making cost trade-offs in technical details.
I understand that many developers have the kind of pursuit of perfection as an artist, but in some cases, this kind of death is not sustainable. Some friends may see this as more utilitarian, but I think it is a kind of responsibility to the team and the player-making a finished product, even if there are many problems, it is better than half unsupportable, and finally has to give up . “
Similar to Woody’s view, Abo also has a more sober understanding of “Battle of the Virgin”: “Because PC and console games were not particularly popular in China, it is naturally impossible to encounter a cold winter.” For him The biggest obstacle is to find the right people to develop together. Then we must persist until the game is finished, and then choose the type you are familiar with to minimize the number of problems that need to be solved in content production.
In response to this issue, Black also gave an interesting solution: “Either hard core hard to the end, or shake the machine to the end.” Because to a large extent, the domestic independent game’s prosperity is essentially due to the attention given by players. It ’s changed a lot, but in fact people ’s requirements for indie games are becoming stricter. On the one hand, developers have to have higher requirements for the quality of their work, and on the other hand, they have to deal with different segments of player preferences.
However, when looking at the entire independent gaming industry, Zhechuan didn’t think it was just “domestic problems.” Because foreign independent game circles have long said “Indiepocalypse” (independence day), everyone will more or less encounter market saturation and unstable financial conditions:
“In fact, making games has always been a very low success rate … Although the domestic Steam market still has a wave of demographic dividends of domestic sentiment, it has long passed the era when Steam domestic production will support a wave. But fortunately, games The medium itself is still young, and there is still a lot of space that no one has explored. As long as you can find these spaces and earnestly dig, there is still a chance to stand out in the current market, especially the domestic Steam market. And we developed “Following the Case” From experience, domestic players are very tolerant and supportive of truly original works. “
It is not difficult to find that, while cherishing artistic ideals, it is their general view to make things “real”. In Zhechuan’s eyes, the explosions of “Taiwu Painting Volume”, “Chinese Parents” and “Posia Time” let him see the purchasing power of domestic Steam players, but there are very few explosions of the same level in 2019. It can be seen that although the domestic Steam market is indeed large enough to support some independent developers, it is not a yawning point. If you want to succeed, you still have to look at the level of the work. It is not recommended to take a shortcut to enter this market.
Having said that, there are still some domestic games that can be seen from time to time in overseas bestseller lists. In general, despite some setbacks, we have seen some new hope.
When you meet the scolding player
For a game to be successful, maintaining word of mouth and dealing with its relationship with the player is undoubtedly very important. Among the producers I interviewed, there are also some cases that slowly climbed from the trough of bad reviews. When “The Last Wood” was first listed on Steam as a preemptive experience, there were too many BUGs that caused the evaluation to plummet and almost turned into “mostly bad reviews”. The author Woody now has a little bit of recollection in retrospect:
“In fact, we also had expectations in our hearts, and the version was not yet perfect. At that time, we could only bite the bullet because of all kinds of reasons, but I did not expect that there would be such a large gap. After all, the feedback from the internal test before release was pretty good. Fortunately, EA, we After the sale, it has almost kept the day … We have increased the praise from 50% to 70% within a few months, and have encountered various negative reviews. Some people have opinions, some hate iron and not steel, Some really come up with awesome ideas, and there are “you don’t know how to make games and listen to me”, even those who just swear at their mothers.
There is really no good way to do this. It can only improve the quality of your game, and if there is no change, you will be encouraged. And according to our observation, if the player is really angry to leave a bad comment, even if the response is not very helpful at the time, after all, they have already made this judgment, and they will not come back because of a few words. It’s better to spend more time to improve the game and then visit these players, you may win their recognition. “
More than one was “greeted to an old mother”. “The Great Cultivation Simulator” was plagued by plagiarism last year, annoying the fans of “Circle the World”. In the most desperate moment, while maintaining the basis of strengthening the game’s own features, Black survived by “autism”. The praise rate for the game has now risen to 76% on Steam, which is a bit of a result:
“Autumn, hahaha. We will take seriously the questions that are raised sincerely. Players who are familiar with us should be very clear about this. Our feedback speed is almost on a daily basis. For those who are not so sincere and even have The malicious content actually chose to argue at first, but later found that it didn’t make much sense, so he chose to close himself. “
In contrast, the situation of “Chasing the Suspicious Case” is completely different, and its evaluation is almost “a triumphant all the way”, which has directly climbed to “a rave reviews”. It may be that there are not too many word of mouth anxieties, and the producer Zhechuan was able to look at the bad reviews in a more calm and statistical way. He believes that “bad reviewers” fall into two main categories:
One type of player really doesn’t like your game, and points out the shortcomings very rationally, which is basically irreparable. On the contrary, it is another type of swearing, just because some points are momentarily emotional. At this time, the developer should not refute the player, but try to soothe the emotions of the player, so that he realizes the importance the team attaches to feedback, The effects of negative public opinion have the opportunity to recover after their mood is calm.
But sometimes it’s not wise to give players what they want. For example, Abo feels that the producer needs to find out the player’s true needs from the bad reviews, and the rest is to see if there are powerful ways to solve these problems. The player’s evaluation of a game is generally holistic, and it is easy to go because of shortcomings. It is easy to ignore the advantages because of the advantages. Zack pointed out that many people’s faults are not the core problem. It may be just that there are too many bugs and the details are too low, or the lack of early sensory stimulation.
Based on this view, the “Paperman” team has obtained some experience from “professionals”.
After they started online in the Japanese area, they caused a lot of topics through the background of the story in the late Qing Dynasty, but the evaluation was low due to the difficulty of the game. Unexpectedly, the producer of “Resident Evil Code Veronica” Mu Youshang, after playing the game, returned them an experience report (recommended) of 6000 yuan. I hope to improve the difficulty of the game for Japanese players within the range allowed by time and labor.
Compared with the bad reviews of ordinary players, this report is very clear from the questioning to the problem solving, and even uses a stopwatch to time the ghost’s dwell time in the “Paperman” game. It all starts from the feeling that the design brings to the player. It can be said that People benefit a lot. Nowadays, Wanda finds the relationship between game developers and players to be particularly interesting, not only collusion, but also a subtle emotion of “knowing and knowing is better than battle.”
But i only do games
There are difficulties and tears in the game industry, but we don’t need to be so pretentious. The reason why people are still making games is definitely to gain valuable things. Mr. Russell once said that true happiness comes from constructive work. In Abo’s mind, it is very difficult to find a job that can give play to its strengths without feeling boring. For Ruo Nan, playing games is a “constructive job” that makes him happy:
“Because it not only makes me feel happy to grow up, to be recognized, but also to experience happiness that brings happiness to others. In this way, I am so happy to be involved in the development of” Quick Silver “. The development of Rained Blood: Dirty House is also the same. If you think back to the current situation a few years later, it must be happy. I think all game developers feel this way, otherwise there are so many young people, no matter how the environment Hard, how fierce is the competition, how uncertain is the future, and still desperate to invest in the wave of game development? “
Looking back on the past year, the most impressive thing for Black is that he finally got out of the haze of negative public opinion. He went to station B for the anniversary live broadcast a few weeks ago. When asked whether his own work is still a junk-skinning game, many people left the word “no” in the form of a barrage. After that, there were players who specially encouraged him to write an email, and instantly felt that they had “entered a barrage” in their eyes.
Black said that the first game he played when he was a kid is “Swordsman Love”. Since then, he has been full of longing for the industry. He studied software engineering at the university and went directly to Xishanju after graduation. I’ve done everything along the way, but it’s all about making games. The biggest wish before starting a business is to be your own game and be loved by one or two thousand people. He jokingly said, “So although 9102, I only play games.”
Woody joined the game because he went to Shanghai in 2014 to participate in Indieace’s Game Jam. Hundreds of people waited for the theme excitedly in the heart-felt venues, and then tossed around for two days, barely submitting their works before the dead line. At the time, he was a student. For the first time, he participated in this novel activity, and his sense of accomplishment was amazing. And the team was the old driver Hou Shuaiying, and the overall experience was very good.
And the most unforgettable thing for him last year, “The Last Wood”, which lasted for two years, finally went online: “We left a photo before the point of release, and a few of us were in front of the computer and the mouse was hovering over the green” release ” On the button, my heart is full of expectations. “
In fact, the launch of the game is an extremely sacred moment for developers. At this time, Zhechuan also experienced three times last year. He was very upset when “The Pursuit of Doubt” was launched. Although there was still anxiety when the DLC was released later, it was more expected: “It feels like the game is launched as a love letter from the developer to the player. The moment when you open the envelope is bound to be extremely tense. The subsequent DLC updates are like correspondences after you are familiar with each other. With a certain tacit foundation, you can talk more and be more open. “
Wanda sent his mother away in 2019. Before he was too sad, he would welcome “Paper Man” to be launched on various platforms around the world. Praises and bad reviews from players from all over the country came to him, and he gained a lot and was more moved. It is indescribable.
When I asked if they would continue to play games in the future, some people were certain, some were hesitant, and some were worried-after all, who is right in the future, maybe it will be replaced by AI in the future.
But from a player’s perspective, there is an answer that says to my heart: “Game is the future of art, entertainment, and even lifestyle. 9102 has passed, and it is one step closer to this future. Continue to continue to play games, Maybe this future can come faster. “
Thank you to the following people for supporting this article (in no particular order):
“Battle of the Virgin” Producer-Abo
Producer of “Chasing the Suspect”-Zhechuan
Infinite Flying CEO-Ruo Nan
Producer of “Amazing Cultivation Simulator”-Black
“The Last Wood” Developer-Woody
Paperman Team Leader-Wanda
Save the World Special Team Producer-Zach